REVIEW - Learning Perl 3ed


Learning Perl 3ed


Randal Schartz&Tom Phoenix




O'Reilly ()


316pp @£24-95


Huw Lloyd


December 2001



I recommend it as a fast entry to programming Perl

Learning Perl 3ed is a rewrite of the 2ed, upgraded to Perl V5.6. In order of bias it covers text manipulation, file handling and processes. The structure, technical density and index facilitate easy reading; coding style advice is scattered throughout and no errors were observed. Unfortunately, it occasionally patronises;

'Former C programmers will recognize this as being like C's index function. Current C programmers ought to recognize it as well - but by this point, you should really be a former C programmer.'

'Since you can read the information from the file with read, can you guess how we can write it back into the file? Sorry, that was a trick question. You already know the correct function which is print.'

Furthermore, Larry (the author of Perl) is thanked on our behalf; we are prompted to send him a thank you note and are blessed with shallow insights into Larry's thinking.

The preface provides a reading time estimate between 18 to 36 hours. However, 8 may suffice for experienced C and Unix programmers. Readers without exposure to C-style fundamental types may struggle with some of the explanations, 36 hours may be insufficient for them.

Rick Stone's argument (see 2ed review) regarding additional books still holds. I read the book without recourse to other sources. A proliferation of footnotes, I estimate 1.5 per page, provide semi-witty details that are sometimes useful. Frequent manpage references provide asides to the content.

I recommend it as a fast entry to programming Perl. Minor style irritation is overshadowed by the empowerment the language provides.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.